We’ve outlined 15 top destinations, from Cleveland, Ohio to Chengdu, China; these are the spots you should consider for your 2015 travel plans.
Colombia’s tourism industry has seen sizable growth over the past few years, with special emphasis on Cartagena’s UNESCO World Heritage sites and, more recently, Bogotá’s major infrastructure improvements. But many travelers are still overlooking a real historic gem—Santa Marta. Founded in 1525, Santa Marta was the first Spanish settlement in Colombia and today it is the oldest surviving city in the country. Nearly 500 years of history sets this city apart from the rest, it’s home to some incredibly authentic museums and cathedrals, but Santa Marta has something to please every traveler. Beaches give way to reefs with excellent snorkeling, ancient ruins wait to be rediscovered in Tayrona National Park and the nightlife is a one-of-a-kind experience.
This year’s opening night for the Cleveland Cavaliers was potentially the most exciting the city has ever seen. The dimmed lights, thousands of ecstatic fans waving red glow sticks and the official appearance of LeBron James donning a Cavaliers jersey on his home court once again. His return is just one of many signs that the city has made an incredible comeback. Cleveland was once “the heart of the industrial revolution,” but it has flourished into a city of independent craft beer breweries, citywide celebrations and passionate cyclists—an all-around amazing place to visit.
This province along Vietnam’s coast contains some of the most magnificent natural features in the world, some so incredible they are protected within a National Park that was named a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park is home to 300 caves and grottos, one of those caves (the Sơn Đoòng Cave) was found to be the largest cave in the world during a recent expedition. Beyond the Sơn Đoòng Cave, the region is celebrated for biodiversity, the National Park is home to many endangered species and to date scientists are still discovering new species in the area.
Home to just 57,000 people, Greenland is the least densely populated country in the world, which also makes it an incredible getaway. This massive island has something for every traveler, whether you visit the tiny but colorful villages on the west coast or head south to take in some of the most incredible fjords on the planet. Those with a sense of adventure will find themselves right at home, as Greenland offers some of the best sea kayaking, ice cave exploring and rock climbing on the planet. Other draws include the truly unique cuisine, the view of the midnight sun and, of course, the opportunity to take in the sight of a lifetime—the aurora borealis.
The Atacama Desert, otherwise known as the driest place on Earth, might not seem like an earthly place at all; but the arid land stretching 600 miles down the Chilean coast offers travelers a unique look at desert life. Home to natural features like salt flats, hot springs and geysers, the region is known for its unique fruits, archeological sites and the Incan and Spanish influences that remain strong with the indigenous people who still inhabit the desert.
A collection of 18 Islands set halfway between Iceland and Norway has recently taken centerstage, recognized for stunning natural beauty and an increasing interest from travelers abroad. Though the tourism season is very short (May to September) due to harsh winters, the breathtaking beauty of summer and the lush greenery is unrivaled by almost anywhere else on earth. The islands are home to one of the most striking waterfalls in the world, an amazing bird population and several small towns and cities. Nightlife is sparse outside the capital, but the small towns have a unique charm all their own.
This wild, unique and mysterious country is starting to make a big impression with travelers. For those bold enough Bolivia offers climbs up the Andes, access to the Amazon and a one-of-a-kind look at the ancient Inca civilization. But beyond the epic adventurous treks, Bolivia is also home to Salar de Uyuni (the largest salt flat in the world) and the buzzing markets of La Paz, both of which are high points that should not be missed.
Though Macedonia is tiny in size, there is more to do and see than you would imagine. Capital city Skopje offers great nightlife and shopping while undergoing a rapidly changing urban renewal and Ohrid teems with history and grace, perched high above one of Europe’s deepest lakes, Lake Ohrid. Natural Parks, remote mountains and deep caves ensure plenty of adventure for those interested and Macedonia also throws some incredible festivals, which are bustling for a reason.
Plagued by a history of conflict and instability, Namibia has made incredible strides in recent years, finally achieving a fair amount of political, economic and social stability. The nation once too dangerous for tourists is now able to safely host travelers, in fact, tourism is now a major part of their economy. Visitors marvel at otherworldly landscapes, wildlife roaming free in Etosha National Park and Kolmanskop, the ghost town left to the mercy of desert sands after local mining dried up.
Set between four guardian mountains, Seoul is a soulful city with a pulse that’s almost palpable. The city is a round-the-clock wonder, a haven for foodies and site full of history and stunning architecture. Should you care to venture out and explore more of South Korea, the public transit system is very efficient. Visiting the North Korea/ South Korea border, the international port Incheon or World Heritage sites at Suwon is well worth the effort.
Just as it’s name implies, Kangaroo Island is full of the furry creatures—and a whole lot more. Tourism to Australia’s third largest island has been growing exponentially, now attracting more than 140,000 visitors per year. Most travelers come for the wildlife, natural beauty and the cuisine—the area is classified by wildlife and marine preserves, natural wonders like Admiral’s Arch and local ingredients that are out of this world.
In Myanmar the culture and history of the land still resonates today, while regions once off limits to travelers are becoming accessible. Many of the residents still dress in traditional clothing, some travel by horse and cart and drinking tea at traditional tea houses is still a big part of daily life. Travelers often enjoy visiting Shwedagon Paya, one of Buddhism’s most sacred sites or heading to Bogyoke Aung San Market where there are more than 2,000 shops.
The city steeped in music, wine and ancient architecture has been given a major reboot. Upgrades to infrastructure and the metro system, pared with the arrival of cheap flights have been bringing in more travelers and they are falling in love with the city. Summer nights are filled with lively parties in the plaza, nearly endless opportunities to taste fine wine and sights that will take your breath away.
Incredible food, friendly locals and Pandas--that’s what you’ll find at the hub city of Chengdu. The bustling epicenter has an eccentric appeal with notable nightlife. Check out the Giant Panda Research Base, visit the Jinsha Site Museum or take in the Wenshu Temple and the enjoy the food and drink of this active city.
Cuba is, without a doubt, the most buzz-worthy potential destination for Americans in 2015. The island that’s been off limits to for more than 50 years is, as a result, shrouded in mystery and therefore irresistible to travelers. Though the restrictions haven’t been dropped entirely, the travel industry is buzzing with possibility. Cuba is an excellent destination without the hype, offering plenty of adventure, history and delicious cuisine, but the excitement isn’t likely to die down anytime soon, so if you plan on visiting, you’d better start looking at options now.